#longlivepdg: Manuel Botelho at Galeria Miguel Nabinho

Parque das Gerações, in Cascais, is the motif of Manuel Botelho’s new solo exhibition at Galeria Miguel Nabinho. Composed of photographs, the exhibition’s name #longivepdg uses the hashtag used in the civic campaign of the generations that use this park, which was built more than 10 years ago and is now threatened by the construction of a tunnel.

Manuel Botelho fell in love with this skatepark, with the stories that happen in it, with the local community’s effort in defending this place. This skatepark was the winning project of the 2011 participatory budget of the Cascais Municipal Council. Its construction began in 2013, near the São João do Estoril railway station, with a unique view of the sea. Manuel Botelho has never been associated with skating, his perspective on the subject has nothing to do with the sport, but with what this place represents.

In the video testimonial on #longlivepdg, Manuel Botelho says that he came to this place because of the noise that the local population made when the threat to the park arose. Despite being located in his residential area, it always went unnoticed, until the day he saw protest posters around the park’s railing. This noise made Botelho visit the park every day. Based on the conversations he had with young people, he began the process of photographing this place.

The exhibition begins in a first mural composed of small photographs lined up at the entrance of the gallery, where a small note in text reads:

“Every day I discover something new here. Perhaps a light. An unexpected shadow. A gesture, a presence, a will. And I cannot imagine the destruction of such a place. Whatever the reason.”

A small example of Manuel Botelho’s thoughts on Parque das Gerações, which is detailed downstairs, in Galeria Miguel Nabinho‘smain room. Here we find fourteen large format photographs, set out linearly on the three walls of this room. The first wall photographs offer a more distant look at this place, revealing the scale of the park area and the surrounding landscape. The day is grey, the ramps are painted black and on them have been painted in white the community’s sayings: “We want the PDG here!!!” or “Don’t steal our happiness!!!”. And, as we walk through the images, more and more people appear in this place; teenagers dominate the scene, in groups or alone, enjoying the park or taking care of it (wiping the water puddles in the deepest part of the typical skatepark pools). The arrival of the local community brings Manuel Botelho’s lens closer and closer, even ending up being swallowed by the blackness of the skatepark’s swimming pool, in an image captured inside it; we see the huge white drawing left by the skateboards’ wheels on this structure’s black walls.

Manuel Botelho’s fieldwork is depicted by the landscapes he captured in this place. In them we understand what constitutes the Parque das Gerações, who visits it and the threats it faces. The community’s presence stands out in the last photographic nucleus; each person participates as they want in this park’s life; we see the youngest guided by the most experienced, children, teenagers, entire families, or single people. In these images, nobody looks at Manuel Botelho’s lens. His presence seems natural and, therefore, doesn’t warrant attention; his camera and his gaze are now part of Parque das Gerações.

Because it is a community area involving interactions and exchanges, it is important that it be preserved, and there is a public petition to defend it.

Manuel Botelho’s exhibition is at Galeria Miguel Nabinho until May 31, 2022.

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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